Artist: Carrie Underwood
Track: “Starts With Goodbye”
I was sitting on my doorstep,
I hung up the phone and it fell out of my hand.
But I knew I had to do it,
And he wouldn’t understand.
So hard to see myself without him,
I felt a piece of my heart break.
But when you’re standing at a crossroad,
There’s a choice you gotta make.
I guess it’s gonna have to hurt.
I guess I’m gonna have to cry.
And let go of some things I’ve loved,
To get to the other side.
I guess it’s gonna break me down,
Like falling when you try to fly.
It’s sad, but sometimes moving on with the rest of your life,
Starts with goodbye.
I know there’s a blue horizon,
Somewhere up ahead, just waiting for me.
Getting there means leaving things behind,
Sometimes life’s so bittersweet.
Time, time heals,
The wounds that you feel.
Somehow, right now.
It’s sad, but sometimes moving on with the rest of your life,
Starts with goodbye.
**It’s true…sometimes life really is bittersweet. Or so I’ve learned. This song makes me think of the past and all that’s happened. It brings me back to that day nearly 3 years ago, when I made a decision that literally changed my life. It’s hard to believe that all it took was a choice–and my life was turned upside-down. One email. One phone call. I must have played that day out a million times in head in all the time that has passed since–trying to make sense out of what happened. But I’ve since given up trying to do that–trying to remember what I was thinking at the time and what in the world made me do what I did. I wish there was some neat and tidy and simple answer, but I haven’t found one. I’m starting to think that there isn’t one to be found. I think I would have forgotten and moved on faster than I did–were it not for the guilt. I still feel guilty–not for doing what I did, but for how I went about doing it. There’s a difference, believe it or not. In that moment, right then–I honestly believed that I was doing the right thing. I swear, I did. I didn’t send that email to be malicious. Or to get him back for hurting me like he did or for the things he’d said to me earlier that day. Was I upset? Yes. Was I angry with him? Oh, yes. At the time, I’d never felt so humiliated. Or been so hurt. I felt used and dirty and just…worthless. And I was so angry with him for making me feel that way. But more than anything, I was angry with him for making me fall for him in the first place. Oh, how I resented him for that. How I still resent him for that, to this day.
He was angry with me that day. So angry. He called me a liar. Accused me of trying to trap him. That what was happening had been done deliberately with just one goal in mind–to ruin his life. I knew that it wasn’t going to matter at that point what I said, because he wasn’t going to hear it or believe it. All he could see was himself. And the hell that was bound to be released once the truth came out. I remember thinking that he was being so damn selfish. And he was. He didn’t seem to care that it was happening to me, too–that my world was the one that would be turned upside-down by it all. No, he didn’t care. In hindsight, I honestly wish I’d never told him. That I had just stopped it, wrote him off completely, and said nothing. That I’d said to hell with right and wrong and how he had a right to know. Maybe things would have turned out better if I had. But I didn’t. And so here I am.
To this day, I still don’t understand his logic. I mean, he accused me of trying to trap him. Of setting him up somehow for a responsibility he never wanted. Ever. He was wrong. God, he was so so wrong. If that was my plan–if I was trying to trap him–then I never would have done what I did. I never would have contacted her and exposed all the lies. Just think about it–I mean, if trapping him was my intention–wouldn’t I have done the exact opposite and kept my mouth shut? I mean, so long as she didn’t find out, nothing had to change, right? He still would have had things exactly the way he wanted. Except I did tell her. I knew the consequences. Hell, I was counting on them–on the guarantee that it would finally be over. I didn’t want to trap him. Or somehow steal him from her. Not even close. That’s not why I did it. I did it because I was desperate–desperate for it all to end. It’s the truth. He might never believe it, but I’d been trying for months to make it stop. To put an end to the whole charade. I just didn’t know how to do it. And I didn’t have the nerve. It was so hard. I mean, how are you just supposed to just walk away from someone who you care about? It’s not as easy as people might like to think. It’s really not. I loved him. I really did. Past Tense. Granted, I was an idiot and a damn fool for it–but I did. I tried so many times to let go and end it–but I couldn’t. I just kept getting pulled right back in. I guess I thought it was worth the pain–that having him for even just a little while was better than not having him at all. But that’s where the irony comes in… because he was never mine. And deep down, I knew that he never would be. Looking back, I don’t think I truly even wanted him to be.
They say that we create our own destiny. Our own happiness. Or un-happiness, that is. I guess it’s true. It’s a little ironic though. I mean, we all spend so much time trying to keep from getting hurt that we fail to actually realize that we’re hurting ourselves in the process sometimes. That we’re the ones standing in the way of our own happiness. As far as things went with him–I knew going in that there wasn’t going to be any happy ending. Even that first night, I knew. Especially since all my instincts were telling me I shouldn’t. But as usual, I ignored them. I guess you could say that was my first mistake in a string of many, many others. It wasn’t planned. It just happened. It frustrates me to no end when people assume that I’m this horrible person who callously tried to break up a happy home. It wasn’t like that at all. And that sure as hell was never my intention. At no point whatsoever did I want that to happen. Honest.
I’m not a bad person, despite what some people might think. I’m really not. Granted, what I did was wrong–but I wasn’t the only one in that picture. He was in there, too. I think a lot of people overlooked that fact. I found it absolutely amazing that people could pass judgment on me and my choices in the situation when they didn’t even know me. They didn’t know how I felt or what I thought. They didn’t know what happened. And why? Because they weren’t there. They weren’t the ones being lied to and deceived and used. To an outsider, it all seemed so simple. To them, I was with a practically married, already committed man and I was this horrible person because I let things continue–even after I learned the truth. To be honest, I wish it had been that simple–because maybe then it at least wouldn’t have been so bad. It wouldn’t have been that hard. Only, it wasn’t that simple. And it was that hard.
It hurt. Hell, it still hurts a little. Not often, but sometimes. But like I said before, I knew that going in. I knew the moment I made the decision to tell her–that it wasn’t going to be good. That it was going to get messy. And of course, that’s exactly what ended up happening. I was prepared for the hell I knew would come from sending that email, but I wasn’t prepared for the rest of it. I never expected or even imagined that he would take it as far as he did. That he’d be so utterly vindictive. I didn’t even think he was capable of being that cold and that mean. I was wrong. Obviously. He went too far though. I may have been guilty for making bad decisions and having poor judgment as far as he was concerned, but nothing I did ever came close to justifying what he did after the fact. Slandering my name online–that was just childish. Not to mention, completely pathetic. I got called some names…big deal. I’ve been called worse. That didn’t bother me. It was everything else. The phone calls. Day and night. The threats. There were five phone calls in total. All from a blocked number, of course. I couldn’t make out the voice or tell really whether it was a man or a woman. For all I knew, it could have been him. Or her. I honestly don’t know. All I knew is that it came from his side. Whether it was that cousin of hers that sent me that email last year or simply just someone acting on his behalf–it came from him. The things that were said and the threats that were made–only he would have known those things. No one else even knew that I was even pregnant at that point. I’d only just told my family. Hell, I hadn’t even told my friends yet. To be honest, I was still trying to process it for myself. And trying to process everything else that had happened and that was happening. But he knew. And her. And god knows who else he or they told. But whoever it was–and at this point I don’t even care who–their contempt was pretty obvious. I couldn’t understand then–and I still don’t–how someone could call me–a complete stranger, mind you–and tell me to watch my back–that I’m going to get what’s coming to me. That I was a whore and didn’t deserve to be a mother. That everyone would be better off if the baby and I were dead. Or that if I knew what was good for me, I’d get rid of the baby. There’s more, but that’s the gist of it. Tell me, WHO does that? What kind of person gets off on threatening someone like that? It’s sick and it’s twisted and I sure as hell didn’t deserve it. I mean, I knew he was mad and that he hated me, but to go to that extreme–to wish me and his own child dead–god, that’s…I don’t even know what to call that. It was cruel. And beyond low–even for him. I don’t care whether he did it or told someone to do it–hell, I don’t even care if it was someone he knew that he’d told about us who did it without him knowing. I don’t care about any of it. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t that I actually believed the threats. I know that they were just a scare tactic–a feeble attempt to scare me into letting him off the hook and to get the abortion he had made quite clear he wanted me to have.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have let those phone calls or those cruel things that were said get to me–but they did. And it hurt. It hurt like hell. But it also made me realize something. It made me realize that I had a choice. That I could either give in and let them win, or I could fight fire with fire. I chose the latter. And as it turns out, I could fight just as dirty and be just as under-handed about the truth as they had been. And so that’s what I did. I fought back.
I knew I was doing the right thing. That I was doing what was best for everyone. All I could think of was his little girl. A little girl who didn’t deserve to have her family torn apart because of choices that I had made. That’s why I did it. Well, part of it anyhow. In a lot of ways, that was me. I know what it’s like to grow up without a father. To see him maybe once or twice a year, if that– and to talk to him on the phone now and then. I know how it feels to be left behind and to spend your whole childhood wondering why you just weren’t enough–why you weren’t enough for him to stay. I know.
In the same regard, I know what it’s like to be in the center of it all. To be a living, breathing tug-of-war rope between two people who despise each other. I’ve watched it happen with my parents. They hate each other. They can’t be in the same state, let alone the same room with one another, without fighting or re-hashing the past. And as the child–you can’t win. Ever. You can try to keep the peace, but it’s a lost cause. And whether it’s intentional or not, you get dragged right into the middle of the whole mess. I know what that’s like. I lived it. In fact, I’m still living it. It’s hell. Which is why I couldn’t let history repeat itself. I just didn’t see any other way. And believe me, I looked.
I just couldn’t do it myself. I couldn’t walk away. I needed something or someone else to do it. To make the decision for me. I needed someone to force my hand, so to speak. That’s what the email was for. I knew that once the truth was out–it’d be over. Once and for all. No more fights or weeks of being given the silent treatment; then making up and repeating the cycle again and again. I just didn’t want to do that anymore. I also knew that he’d hate me for it. Which he did and probably still does, no doubt. And even though it hurt so much–it was for the best. For everyone. I know it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for all the wrong that I did, but it was something. If nothing else, at least I know that I did one thing right. One thing good.
I just didn’t know he’d do what he did. That he’d go looking for revenge like he did. He wasn’t just looking for payback…he was out for blood. As if the phone calls weren’t bad enough, he made it worse. I don’t know which pissed me off more–that he’d had the nerve to drag me into court or the fact that he tried to pass me off as this psychotic stalker. Or maybe it was that I’d petitioned the court the week before and was told that there was nothing that could be done–unless I went on record saying he’d been physically abusive towards me. I could have lied. It would have been easy, too. But as angry and as hurt as I was– I couldn’t do that to him. I couldn’t accuse him of things he hadn’t or ever would have done, even though that’s exactly what he had been doing to me. He may have been a jerk, but he would never raise a hand to a woman…I don’t think. I could have told the court about those phone calls and the threats. I just didn’t see the point really. I knew he’d just deny everything. And besides, mentioning those phone calls would have worked against what I was trying to make happen. I wanted it to be over. I wanted him out of my life. I wanted to be free. So I gave him what he wanted. Made it so that he was no longer responsible for anything. And he was free. And so when he petitioned the courts, I did nothing. I said nothing. I didn’t admit to anything–because none of the accusations were true–and I didn’t say anything in my defense either. I went along with it, allowing the courts to give him what he wanted–and didn’t try to stop it. The way I thought about it–it didn’t matter who petitioned whom–we’d still both be out of each other’s lives. To this day, I still don’t know how I managed to keep it together that day. Sitting there in that courtroom, playing over and over in my head the words he’d written about me–the lies–I couldn’t even look at him. I literally felt sick just being in the same room with him; forced to listen while he made himself out to be the victim. I remember the judge talking and asking me if I wanted to fight his petition–and how all I could think was that I wanted it to be over and that I didn’t want to fight anymore. Not with him, or her, or my conscience. To be honest, I had no fight left. None. Sitting in that room, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Like I was numb. I wanted to be anywhere but in that room, with him.
Everyone thought I was a fool for not fighting him. For not defending myself against all those undeserved and false accusations. And maybe they’re right. Maybe I was foolish for not saying anything or telling the truth or mentioning those threats that day. Maybe everyone is right and I played right into his hand. That I gave him exactly what he wanted and the satisfaction of knowing he got away with what he’d done. Maybe I did. But then again, it was my life and my decision to make. Not theirs. Either way, I didn’t do it for him. I did it for me–so I could have my life back. As far as I was concerned, we both got what we wanted. We were out of each other’s lives. It was over. He was free and so was I. And the truth was safe. That alone made it all worth it.
I grew up really quick after that. I had to. You see, it wasn’t just about me anymore. I didn’t matter. As the lyrics said, I was at a crossroads. I had a choice to make. One that no matter how you looked at it, I knew that, either way, it was going to destroy me. Which it did. In ways that you couldn’t possibly imagine. I won’t say that it was easy, because it wasn’t. It was hell. There were days when I didn’t even want to get out of bed–when I wanted to just sleep and never wake up. It was the only time I ever felt at peace–when I slept. But unfortunately, that wasn’t an option–because while my world may have stopped, the rest of the world hadn’t. Life went on. I had responsibilities. I had work and bills and rent and student loans to pay. No one ever tells you how hard it is, you know? Being an adult. Life. They don’t tell you that you’re going to go through hell. Often. Or that there are people in this world who are going to try to hurt and break you just because they can–because they’re that cruel. No one tells you. No one prepares you for it–for any of it. Fate just throws you in the water and that’s it–then it’s sink or swim time.
It’s not all bittersweet though. Some of it is positive. In a lot of ways, saying goodbye was the best decision I could ever have made. Truly. I was finally free–almost as if I was given a second chance. A chance to make things right and to do good this time around. My relationship with him, if you can call it that, was headed nowhere. And that wasn’t going to change no matter what I did. The end was inevitable. I knew that. The only part I couldn’t for see was the way in which the end would come. Oddly enough, I’m glad that he showed his true colors in the end–because it made my decision that much easier. Made me not feel so guilty about what I was doing. It took a long time, but I’m over it. Over him. I’ve moved on. I’m happy. For the first time since him, I’m simply content with the way things are–and the way they turned out with him and I was going nowhere with him but I’m going somewhere now. I’ve finally pulled myself together and got my head on straight. I’m back in school and getting closer to what I want to be and finding out what I want out of life. I have plans–which is usually not typical for me–but I have them. I know for certain now what I want to do with my life. What I want to be. I also know what I don’t want and who I don’t want to be. I don’t want to go back there–to that place with him and I–and I don’t want to be that girl anymore. I like who I am now. I’m happy and focused and living my life the way I want to. I’m seeing an amazing guy who is nothing at all like him. He’s sweet and funny and makes me happy. It’s new and fun and exciting. He’s the kind of guy that a girl could definitely fall in love with. Someday. We’ll see. But all in all–life is good. I made the right decision. And that decision led me here. To now. And I’m loving it. I really am.
Well, there’s more classwork to be done, so until next time.